Hamburg Rules

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Hamburg Rules
Signed31 March 1978
LocationHamburg and New York
Effective1 November 1992
ConditionRatification by 20 states
DepositaryUN Secretary-General
LanguagesArabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish

The Hamburg Rules are a set of rules governing the international shipment of goods, resulting from the United Nations International Convention on the Carriage of Goods by Sea adopted in Hamburg on 31 March 1978.[1] The Convention was an attempt to form a uniform legal base for the transportation of goods on oceangoing ships. A driving force behind the convention was the attempt of developing countries' to level the playing field. It came into force on 1 November 1992.[2]


The first of the international conventions on the carriage of goods by sea was the Hague Rules of 1924. In 1968, the Hague Rules were updated to become the Hague-Visby Rules, but the changes were modest. The convention still covered only "tackle to tackle" carriage contracts, with no provision for multimodal transport. The industry-changing phenomenon of containerization was barely acknowledged.[3][4] The 1978 Hamburg Rules were introduced to provide a framework that was both more modern, and less biased in favour of ship-operators. Although the Hamburg Rules were readily adopted by developing countries, they were shunned by richer countries who stuck with Hague and Hague-Visby. It had been expected that a Hague/Hamburg compromise might arise, but instead the more extensive Rotterdam Rules appeared.

Relation with other conventions[edit]

Article 31 of the Hamburg Convention[5] covers its entry into force, coupled to denunciation of other Rules. Within five years after entry into force of the Hamburg Rules, ratifying states must denounce earlier conventions, specifically the Hague and Hague-Visby Rules.

A long-standing aim has been to have a uniform set of rules to govern carriage of goods, but there are now five different sets: Hague, Hague-Visby, Hague-Visby/SDR, Hamburg and Rotterdam. (The Rotterdam Rules are not yet in force).[6][7]


As of October 2014, the convention had been ratified by 34 countries:[8]

Country Comments
 Burkina Faso
 Czech Republic
 Dominican Republic
 Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
 Sierra Leone


  1. ^
  2. ^ UNCITRAL Homepage
  3. ^ Hague-Visby Rules: Article IV Rule 5c
  4. ^
  5. ^ Hamburg Rules
  6. ^ Maritime Law - 2014 - ed. Yvonne Batz
  7. ^ Maritime Law Evolving - 2013 - ed. Malcolm Clarke
  8. ^ The Jackson Parton Miscellany -

External links[edit]